Swindon-based contractor Beard is expecting to return to profit in 2005 after reporting a pre-tax loss of £215,000 for 2004

Managing director Mark Beard said that the loss was largely attributable to a £325,000 payment made to move the firm’s pension scheme from deficit to surplus and a £100,000 investment in a management information system.

He said that the decision last year to concentrate on formal framework deals combined with the absence of major exceptional items will lead to strong results for 2005. Beard predicts pre-tax profit will be about £800,000 – compared with the £610,000 it made in 2003 – and turnover will rise £9m to £31m.

In its last results, the company said a lower than normal success rate at winning tenders at the end of 2003 led to a reduced level of work in the first half of 2004. This meant that the company did not pay out a dividend, having made a payment of £175,000 in 2003.

Beard added: “We took a pause last year while our two new directors, Clive Bassett [finance director] and John Youle [head of the Oxfordshire office], worked on a new strategy.”

The two major frameworks the company won last year were with Oxfordshire council and Thames Valley Police and should generate £16m of work over the next five years.

Beard said that the company was focusing its plans on the Swindon and Oxfordshire regions. He said: “These are the areas we intend to grow market share.”

In a separate move, the company last week re-branded itself, dropping the “EW” that had prefixed the Beard name. Beard said: “Since I became managing director in 1999 we have made a big effort to modernise the business, with new site facilities and IT and we worked closely with Constructing Excellence to improve processes and systems. We felt that the old ‘EW’ brand was lagging behind.”